Yesterday I spent most of the morning with my children cleaning my great aunt’s house. It has sat empty for over three years now. We have a new realtor and high hopes this time. When I went in for the first time in quite a while on Friday, meeting with the realtor, I knew we would have to come back and clean. It was not a requirement or even a request. It was a gift to one of the strong women who helped raise me. I couldn’t kiss her forehead when she left, nor could I wash her face and hands one last time. But I can make sure that folks who come into her home know someone cares and that it doesn’t look thrown away. So we vacuumed and dusted and polished and swept. It was a sacred morning.
Last night I was filled with sorrow and joy all at the same time (I know, I’m the crazy one in our family), and the first thing I thought was, “I want to tell Mama.” And it all came rushing back. I’m afraid the emotional tidal wave had me pouring my heart out in a raw, broken way. And I’m sorry about that.
But I feel raw. And broken. Even still. I get invited to do lovely things with wonderful people, and I want to do these things. But when I think about it, the panic sets in and I just can’t. I am so sorry for that too. The panic. The not being able to do things. Be with people. I do apologize. But there it is. And I don’t know what to do about it. But wait, maybe?
This morning I thought about something I wrote less than a month after Daddy left this world. Considering the trip I took on the Grief Wheel last night, I offer this for whatever it can be. An explanation. An apology. The map of where I am for the time being. With love to all.
I originally wrote this the morning of 12/13/2011. It is just as true today, and even more so.
The journey is over
He, who fought so hard, and did so much to stay
Had to leave
He told me so
Not long after he left and we all said goodbye
I saw him, in my dream
We were all gathered to say goodbye, and he was there
I ran to him and hugged him
“What are you doing here?” I was ecstatic and a little confused.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he hugged me back
“I had to go. I’m sorry.”
He looked so good. Healthy. Strong. Ready to take on the world again.
To create with wood and words and make us all laugh and keep us all straight. He looked full of life.
I know he is healed. So many remind me, trying to bring comfort.
One said, “God needed your Daddy more than you did.” I don’t think so. I cannot breathe sometimes I need him so much. But thank you for taking time to speak to me.
Others choose not to say anything or ask anything. Grief is not a fashionable accessory. It can make a lot of folks uncomfortable. And that is okay too.
And those that ask, I wonder. How long can I be honest? How long can I tear up when they ask? How long before someone tells me enough is enough? How long before the world continues on, as though the sky did not fall, as though it can still breathe, as though he did not even exist? As though none of this matters anymore?
There are things to do, hustle and bustle, and appointments to keep, projects to produce, shows to watch and restaurants to visit, vacations to take, and trips to plan. How long before Life throws its hands up and says, “Really we must go on without you, because this whole grief thing…..well, it’s really getting old.”
Perhaps the tradition of wearing black for a year is not as unfounded as we may have thought. If one is mourning, and one is marked as a mourner, perhaps that is enough. There is grace in that, I think. So that when I start to cry in the candy aisle at the grocery store, because I just thought about buying that candy for him because he loves it, folks will know. Or when I feel drawn to the cancer center, to reach out and hug someone going through just what we have, maybe folks won’t think I’m strange, because they will know. Or when I am trying to remember the name of the person who worked with Daddy, and I think, I need to ask him…..and then it hits me, and I burst into sobs. Folks will know. I need for them to know.
I need for them to know, because one day, one day soon I fear, I will reach out and grab hold of the closest person around and I will beg them to hold me, to wipe out all of the brokenness in this—my Mama who is alone; my sister who shuts the door to her office and cries at work; the grandchild on the way who will never know what a special man he is and was; my children who miss him so, the oldest who misses the man who loved her and raised her and the youngest who doesn’t know what to make of all this but just misses his car playing buddy who let him drive his cars around the rails of the hospital bed…..over and over; and his sister, who cries quietly because she misses her brother. I will reach out and grab hold and I won’t let go. As I cry and sob and let it all out, I won’t let go. Because I’ve done that already, and it hurts so much I cannot breathe. I need for them to know. Because I cannot forget.